For years I have been told that soccer is the most popular sport in the world. Every time I mention that I don't care much for the sport, people are amazed. "How can people all over the entire world be wrong?" they ask. Of course, didn't Russia used to say the same thing about communism?
If soccer is so great, why can't I watch an entire game on television without falling asleep? The only soccer game I have ever watched on television that I can remember was when the United States women's team won the World Cup and the girl who scored the game-winning goal ripped off her shirt. Don't ask me what happened before or after, but I do remember the girl in her sports bra.
Yes, soccer is loved by kids everywhere. Sikeston has more soccer goals than stoplights, and that's saying something. Even I played soccer as a kid and I admit, it was fun. Of course, all I knew about the sport was that I was supposed to run as fast as I could and kick the ball in the net. As I got older, I realized running after a stupid ball for an hour-and-a-half wasn't as fun as it used to be. Instead I realized it was a ploy by my parents to get me tired so I went to bed early.
Apparently I'm not the only one who came to this realization. That is evident by the coverage on television. You can find women's professional basketball on television more frequently than soccer. And that is because soccer is boring. I mean you can turn on a soccer game and watch for a couple of minutes and still not know which way each team is going.
For those of you who don't follow soccer, the object is run around the large field until somebody gets lucky and kicks the ball into the net that is as big as a two-car garage. Usually this only happens about once a game, if at all, leaving the fans with many "oohs" and "aahhs" at all of the "near misses" where the ball soars 30 feet over the large net.
Of course, people in Europe and other parts of the world love the sport. They love the sport so much they spend days drinking and chanting and getting ready for game day. Then they are so drunk on game day that if their team doesn't win they riot. Sometimes these riots even become deadly. Of course, I would probably want to riot too if I had paid money to go a soccer game and it ended in a 0-0 tie.
But maybe they wouldn't riot if the sport was a little more exciting. The first thing I would do is get rid of the acting. If you watch a soccer game on television for 15 minutes you are bound to see a player barely get touched and go down like he has been hit with a crowbar. He will roll around on the ground for 10 minutes until he gets the call or realizes the official didn't buy it (this never happens), when at this point he hops up like nothing ever happened.
In my version of soccer there would be no penalties. If you take out a player, so be it. If that player is injured, he must stay down until the game is over or until he can drag himself off the field.
But that isn't all. The goals need to be bigger. I know they are already the size of Ohio but let's make them the size of Texas. Extend them from end line to end line and then maybe somebody can actually score.
While we're at it, let's just reduce the size of the soccer field too. All that running makes me tired just to watch (hence the falling asleep while watching). If I want to fall asleep, I'll watch a NASCAR race.
While we're changing the sport, they might as well don helmets and pads and be allowed to touch the balls with their hands. As a matter of fact let them carry and throw the ball too. And if a guy has the ball, let the players tackle him to the ground.
Granted, not everything can be as entertaining as women's beach volleyball but if you make these changes and put it on Sunday afternoon, you might just have some entertainment. Who knows, the championship game might even be the most watched game in the world.